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ANTHROP 1AB3 (353)

The Development of Fieldwork in Cultural Anthropology/Linguistics

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Karen Mc Garry

• Please see the grading rubric posted under “Content” on Avenue Fieldwork • Usually viewed as a defining quality of - If you’re a cultural cultural anthropology anthropologist or a linguist, make sure • What does fieldwork consist of? What you get all of your might anthropologists “do” in the field? shots, get government • One year or more “in the field.” Why do permission to be you think such a long period of time is there necessary? • How can anthropologists prepare - Do background themselves for fieldwork? research - Learn the language Informed Consent • What is this? - You seek permission to study them and to hang out with them - You have to tell people of any risks involved in participating in your research - Tell them that they’re able to resign at any time - If they do resign you have to shred all of the research on them, you can’t use it - Consent can be in written form or video - Important to protect your informants When doing • Many anthropologists experience - Culture shock = fieldwork disillusionment / CULTURE SHOCK home sickness in • What is this? Examples? spite of the fact that anthropologists are trained in cultural relativism - Eg. different conceptions of food, time, space Qualitative data - Anthropologists are mostly interested in Qualitative data - Interviews: formal or informal - Visual markings: videos and photos - Interested in understanding culture from nuanced perspective Quantitative data • Statistics generated from surveys, etc. - Data that is in numbers - Useful when you’re trying to understand broad data in a culture - i.e unemployment rates - Not going to tell you peoples’ specific experiences from unemployment • What might be some problems with - From an relying exclusively on surveys and anthropologist perspective, you statistics? won’t really get personal stories with quantitative data - You end up directing the data - The people you’re interviewing should actively shape the kind of data that you’re looking for - With quantitative data you’re performing grand generalizations about a population - Don’t unintentionally force someone to pick one answer over another Participant • Interacting closely with people on a - Could range from Observation daily basis, sometimes living with or the spectacular (i.e near them, and often participating Olympics) to the activities or aspects of daily life mundane (studying the culture of housewives). - Conversations can be business like or casual Three sources of • people’s own understandings of the - We’re interested in data: rules they share looking at these 3 primary sources • the extent to which they believe they when we’re doing are observing those rules participant observation • behaviors directly observed by an anthropologist - “Cultural ideals” - • Sometimes fieldwork can expose - Survey data can’t contradictions in culture…eg. People bring up might say one thing and do another contradictions • Eg. work of garbologist William Rathje - - Rathje collected peoples’ garbage - Found that when people stop caring that their garbage is being examined, their habits change by a lot - i.e after a few months he found more potato chip bags, more alcohol bottles, more cigarette boxes Stages in the • Armchair Anthropology (late 1800s to - The earliest Development of about 1914) anthropologists Anthropological - They didn’t do Fieldwork: fieldwork as we do it today - They sat in armchairs and read about peoples’ interactions with indigenous people, in particular non westerners. - Most of these anthropologists were upper class and male - Cerebral activity is more valuable in our culture - Used a comparative approach - Compared and contrasted different social institutions
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